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Yana Texts, by Edward Sapir, [1910], at


p. 192

"He is sick, he is very sick. It looks as if he is going to die. Perhaps he will not recover. If four days have elapsed and he has not recovered, you will run to get the medicine-man, and he will suck the sickness out of him. You will offer him as pay perforated white beads. Wear them around your neck. Surely he will get up and start hither, for medicine-men always like perforated white beads." He who had been sent arrived (at the medicine-man's house) and put the beads down on the ground. The medicine-man smelled them. "I shall not be able to make him recover. I shall indeed go to see him anyway. The perforated white beads already have an odor." 296 He ran back and

p. 193

arrived home. He hung up the beads and cried, sitting down on the ground. "Do you put water down on the ground. The medicine-man has already come." The medicine-man sat down. "Well, I shall try to do what I can." He doctored him. "He will not recover. I do not understand what to do, I am beaten." 297 After he had finished doctoring, he said, "He will die." (The sick man's father) started in to cry, and they all wept with him. "Do you run to bring them hither!" he said. "They shall all come here. I do not wish them to be ignorant about this."

On the following day, at daybreak, he had died. They all started in to cry together. "Go and dig the grave! Do you put together the perforated white beads, the dressed buckskin blanket, dentalia, wa'k‘u shell beads, aprons fringed with pine-nut tassels, various pack-baskets, and trinkets. Make a burial net of coarse rope, and wrap him up in it." Then they washed him and combed his hair. The people all came, came together, dancing and weeping, women, men, and their children, while his mother cried. He was lifted down and put away in the house, while the people and his father and mother wept over him. They did not eat anything. Now they sewed together the deer-hide blanket.

"Now!" said (his father). "Amm!" 298 Don't think that you will continue to eat. There is no sickness going about, and yet I am the only one going about that has sickness. Since the people were not sick, I thought I had a good medicine-man. Perchance you think you will not go to get wood!" 299 (Thus he spoke to himself). "You will just go ahead and bury him tomorrow! Do you make the grave deep!" (he said to the people). There was a man from the south 300 who said, "I do not intend to cry." He had flint arrowheads and inspired everyone with fear. "Whence is the poison that is always acting? I have no intention of eating, of eating my food with tears." It was the


p. 194

brave warrior that spoke thus. "You will bury him at noon. Probably nearly all have come. They say that there are many weeping for him, they say the chief weeps for him, they say that he is greatly angered. My medicine-man forgets, does he not? I shall not be the only one to cry. 301 Do you all start!"

They took him up and carried him, all sorts of belongings being wrapped up with him-arrows, bows, and various blankets, Now they had all moved down to his grave. They brought him down to the grave and put him into it. "Now! Cry!" said he. His brother lay down in the grave, was pulled out back again. "Do not weep, you will soon follow him." 302 The women all danced and cried, weeping for him, putting down water on the ground to the east of him. "Now it is well, is it not?" he said. "Let me see! Go ahead and fail to find the poison. 303 In former days he said to me, 'Surely you shall have no cause to weep, and thus it will always be with you.' That is what he said to me."

The dead man's mother stayed there all night near the grave. Now the people all moved off back to his house. "I shall no longer stay in the house. Set the house on fire!" They set on fire his ropes and all his belongings. "Set the food on fire!" They set everything on fire, and moved on to another place. "You all will go to get other food. I did not think that I would ever be without his laughter when eating." They were all weeping at night, when suddenly the old woman came back. Now at night they started in to eat. "Do you all eat after weeping! Truly we shall all die; we shall not live forever, is it not so? The time of death is near at hand. 302 Do you all procure food for yourselves! Go to the river and catch salmon. No!" he said, "I shall not hurry (to eat). 'Yes, we shall catch salmon (for you),' he used to say to me. 304 I shall cry yet a while, if you please. I shall take food soon."

p. 195

The chief spoke. "Pray do it now!" he said (to the warrior). "Lie in wait for him on his trail. He will find out! They say he has been talking about me, that is what he has been saying. Yes, he will know! He thinks that he has sense. I have sense. the sense of a chief. I shall soon speak out my mind. Though he was my medicine-man, pray shoot him!" he said. "Take him out into the brush and kill him!"

The people brought wa'k‘u beads, dentalia, and perforated white beads. "Here! Pound these," they said. He pounded them at the grave. "I did not know about it, that is why I did not come," (they said). Every summer they burn food (at the grave).


192:296 I.e., they already smell of death.

193:297 Le., I can not cope with the disease spirit.

193:298 He angrily apostrophizes the medicine-man, whom he suspects of having magically "poisoned" his son.

193:299 The implication is that he will murder the medicine-man when he unsuspectingly goes out into the brush for firewood.

193:300 This man, named Wa'it‘awasi, was said to be a brave warrior, a yô'?laina.

194:301 in other words, the medicine-man's folks will weep, for he shall not escape with his life.

194:302 This sort of consolation seems to be rather Christian than Indian.

194:303 He is again angrily apostrophizing the medicine-man. "You will fail to find it, will you?"

194:304 He remembers how his son used to say to him, "Don't bother about getting salmon. I'll attend to that myself."

Next: XIX. Betty Brown's Dream